Both Central Sport and the City recognize that Red Deer is the only city of its size that does not have a community-funded sports council organization.
Central Sport initially submitted a funding application to the City of Red Deer in January 2022 to support their organization for the year with additional funding for the following four years. However, the administration said they do not qualify for funding under the Community Development Grant Policy introduced in 2021, as well as other 2022 funding avenues.
Central Sport submitted a new request to the council on May 6 for assistance in 2022 of $75,000 and then $150,000 annually for 2023 and 2024. The issue was scheduled to be discussed at its May 24 meeting.
The day before council deliberations, Central Sport submitted an alternative motion, withdrawing the 2022 request and retaining the desired funding for 2023 and 2024.
In its letter, Central Sport explained that previous funding was running out and was being allocated to projects such as improving sports accessibility. They said that in order to meet their goal of staging around six sporting events each year over the next two years, the federation would need additional funding to survive.
“We have met with city councilors, mayors, city managers and city officials more than 30 times over the past five years to prepare for this day. To be encouraged all the time and told that the support will be there when we are ready,” Central Sport said in their letter. “The time is now and we are ready”
Due to the amended motions, the council deferred the item to its June 20 meeting and asked Central Sport for clarification.
The association submitted a fourth letter on May 31 requesting initial funding of $75,000 for 2022 and $150,000 each for 2023 and 2024.
The letter, after reflection, said the club needed the funds in 2022 to sustain itself for the remainder of the year.
With no funding channels available outside of the operating reserve that year, the administration maintained its recommendation that its application be denied as approval of funding could result in reputational risk in the community. They said other organizations could also benefit from additional funding, and that the council would violate established guidelines governing fairness and transparency.
“I think this motion follows due process and I also think we don’t in terms of prioritization [approve the funding]. Why else do we make budgets the way we do them when we are going to keep revising them later in the cycle,” said Councilor Michael Dawe.
However, Council Member Vesna Higham and others expressed a desire to approve the application to support the organization, saying it has had a positive impact on youth and other facets of the community.
“The fact that they existed and continued their work and then suddenly last fall the council gave that policy framework and now they’re kind of trapped in this procedural prison that they’re in,” she said, “and I understand that the administration is simply trying to enforce this policy, but the council, we have the power to do the right thing retrospectively.”
The original motion to respectfully decline funding was defeated 5-2, with Councilors Dawe and Victor Doerksen in favor and Councilor Lawrence Lee and Mayor Ken Johnston absent.
Councilor Higham presented a new application for approval of funding.
The motion passed 5-2, with councilors Doerksen and Dawe opposed.